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Difference between DOS and Windows

DOS and windows are both different operating systems where DOS is less popular to be used in the current situation, while windows are a commonly used operating system. The main difference between these operating systems is that the DOS is a single-user and CLI based operating system. Whereas the Windows versions are multi-user, multi-tasking, and graphical user interfaces operating systems. In this article, we are going to discuss the difference between DOS and Windows. But first, we will know about DOS and Windows.

What is DOS?

DOS stands for Disk Operating System. It offers a file system to organize, read, and write files to the disk storage. It's basically a single user Operating System. It performs various tasks to ensure the proper operation of the system. It manages files, and allows program loading and execution, controls hardware devices, and allocates the resources. DOS doesn't offer a GUI (Graphical User Interface). It has the interface of a command line. When the user types a command on the command line, the commands are interpreted to perform the needed task. It contains various commands, including PRINT, DEL, ERASE, and COPY.

The other types of DOS commands are called external commands. They are not widely used. These DOS commands are loaded into the memory when need. SYS and COMP are the two examples of external commands.

What is Windows?

Windows is an OS that is designed and developed by Microsoft Cooperation. It is one of the most popular operating systems in the world. The reason is for the success of Windows is its Graphical User Interface. It enables users to quickly access applications. Today, several versions of Microsoft Windows exist. Some of them are Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 95, Windows 7, 8, and 10.

The Windows operating system offers several features. The user can create folders easily and organize files accordingly. Users may use the start button to locate the installed software in the device. Users can also use the start button to go to the control panel and take help and support for the system. Customization of the desktop with different themes is also possible. Users may add colors, backgrounds, and screensavers for your desktops.

In addition, it provides various useful applications like MS Excel, MS PowerPoint, and MS Word. The MS word enables them to create documents. MS Excel allows calculations to be carried out and financial information processed. MS PowerPoint enables the creation of presentations. Overall, Windows is a user-friendly interface that makes it simple and effective to carry out tasks.

Key Differences between DOS and Windows

Here, we will discuss the key differences between DOS and Windows.

  1. DOS is a command-line operating system where users must type the commands to give the instructions. In contrast, windows provide the user with a graphical interface where users can easily run an application by recognizing icons and pictures.
  2. DOS offers single-tasking, single-user environment, and single programming, whereas windows provide multi-tasking, multi-programming, and multi-user systems.
  3. DOS allows the keyboard to be used as a primary input, whereas windows allow the keyboard and mouse as a primary input.
  4. DOS doesn't support the multimedia application, whereas Windows supports it.

Head to Head differences between DOS and Windows

Now, we will discuss some of the popular differences between DOS and Windows.

Features Dos Windows
Ease of Use We will need to remember the several commands to work with DOS. For Windows, no need to remember any Windows commands.
Interface It uses the Command Line Interface. Each action was performed by using commands in DOS. It uses the Graphical User Interface. It follows the WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menu, Pointer) type of interaction. The click and scroll mouse pointer-events to execute the planned actions.
File System The 16-bit File Allocation Table (FAT16) method is used for DOS. This meant that 16-bit identifiers were used to uniquely define the location of the memory of each file. These identifiers were stored in a table with the name File Allocation Table as a consequence. If this table becomes corrupt, it won't be easy to restore files. In earlier versions, Windows used FAT32 and later substituted it with the Modern Technology File System (NTFS). In NTFS, each cluster's information is stored with the cluster's data, and the File Allocation Table is removed. It also uses a directory system for a binary tree so that recovery and storage are easier.
Primary Input DOS uses the commands to perform any task. These commands are types via the keyboard. So, the keyboard is the primary input mode to DOS. Windows uses the keyboard and mouse for their primary input mode. The click and scroll events are performed for the non-text related tasks by these input modes.
Multitasking DOS is a single-tasking OS. Windows is multi-tasking.
Multi-User DOS can't support multi-user. It allows only one user at a time. Using the terminal services, Windows could support multi-users at a time (for e.g., Windows Servers).
Registry and Swap System It uses a catalog for its swap framework and registry information. This information has a sub-directory and specific index that makes it more vulnerable to attacks. It uses a complex directory-based system to store the registry information. The complicated web of the information storage system makes it impossible to delete this critical information.
Security It was very less secure because it did not accommodate the idea of user roles. It overcomes the DOS security weakness with the idea of authorization. Users must have elevated permissions to gain complete access to the computer.
Networking Networking was an additional feature in DOS. A computer system was rarely connected to the network. This makes it difficult to share the files among the computers. It also implemented integrated network connections for computers. It allowed access to shared disc storage shared devices like printers, scanners and shared memory.
Storage Size Due to its 16-bit segmentation, it had a minimal capacity of disk storage. New Windows OS has solved this weakness due to the advancement of segmentation techniques and memory chips.
Size of OS It was very lightweight due to its very basic interface and minimal features. A typical DOS machine will need around 512 kB to 1 MB for the operating system, the application and the data. Windows provides more graphic-rich features like pictures, sports, videos, etc. This makes it heavy with the minimum specifications of Windows 10 OS 4 GB of RAM and 500 GB of disk space.


DOS was used earlier, and now it is outdated and less likely to be used. Conversely, windows were created, which were allowed with many additional features along with the old one. Windows 1.0 thus provided backward DOS compatibility (it was capable of running DOS software), and new features like multi-tasking, multi-user framework, graphical user interface, and multi-programming were added.

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